Bushfire monitoring system gives updates every 10 minutes

Friday, 14 August, 2015

By June 2016, Australia should have in place a newly improved bushfire monitoring system for firefighters, transforming an existing delayed service into a better emergency management tool.

Geoscience Australia’s Sentinel Hotspots system will receive a major upgrade as a recipient of the 2015–16 National Emergency Management Projects (NEMP) grants.

The system currently provides information about potential bushfire hotspots to emergency service managers and the general public across Australia through satellite imagery.

Geoscience Australia CEO Dr Chris Pigram explained how the upgrade to the Sentinel Hotspots capability will provide Australia with observations 144 times a day, opening up opportunities to monitor change as it happens.

“The increase in frequency from 6-hour updates to 10-minute updates will enable emergency services to monitor fire development in near real time,” said Dr Pigram.

“Emergency services will be able to draw upon Sentinel when deciding where and how to prioritise resources when they are in most demand.

“This is particularly important where there are multiple fire fronts or large-scale incidents across state and territory borders.”

The new Sentinel capability is made possible by the Japanese Government’s $927 million investment and Japanese industry’s technical excellence in developing the Himawari-8 satellite, launched October 2014.

The system’s new capabilities will be available to governments, land planners, emergency managers and communities to assess risks and potential impacts of natural hazards, especially bushfires.

In addition to the $260,000 to upgrade Sentinel, Geoscience Australia also received two other NEMP grants to enhance its community safety programs including $130,000 for the development of flood vulnerability models for non-residential properties and $200,000 to improve national situation awareness information and systems.


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